Continuing the narrative that began here.
Letter the Thirty-Fourth: Miss Honoria Wells to Miss Amelia Purvis.
My dearest Sister, ——
The Charm of the eminent Doctor Albertus consists not in his elegant Appearance, for he makes no claim to Elegance; indeed, but for a certain Degree of Attention lavished on his Beard, I should say that he cares very little for Appearances. But his Charm lies in that very Carelessness: For he appears to place his Trust, not in transitory Beauty of Form, but in the inward Beauty that is the chief and only Glory of the Soul. His Sagacity far exceeds that of most ordinary Gentlemen, and the curious Notions and Opinions which he holds are pleasing and persuasive exactly to the Degree that they are unusual.
This evening our Dinner was served us by his wonderfull Automaton, which I am sure you have heard described elsewhere; I may add merely that it is as much a Marvel as the Reports we have heard would suggest, and an irrefutable Witness to the Greatness of the eminent Doctor her Creator.
The Talk at Dinner was of the most elevated and improving Sort. I find that Doctor Albertus has an Opinion on every Subject, and these Opinions are as singular as the Man himself. I mentioned the Hardships I endured on the Journey hither, and remarked upon the Difficulties a Woman, as the weaker Sex, must face when she travels alone; but he contradicted me in the most pleasant and polite fashion.
“I regard,” quoth he, “the female Sex as infinitely superior to the male. As the Mind is higher than the Body, so is the Woman higher than the Man. For the male Sex is manifestly framed for Labor, whereas the female is formed for Thought. So much must be clear to any candid Inquirer. Now in a barbarous Age, such as every Age before ours has been, and such as ours will doubtless appear to the Age succeeding ours;—in a barbarous Age, I say, Strength will ever be valued above Wisdom; and the Man assumes by Force, that Superiority which Nature has denied him. But once take away the advantage of Strength, by allowing Civilization to flourish, and to produce those settled Conditions in which the Strength of the One is subsumed in the united Efforts of the Many, and the simple Superiority of Thought, as the Instrument by which these Efforts are united, asserts itself:—Thought, which is the especial Preserve of the Woman. It is but reason to suppose, therefore, that, as our Manners are daily refined, and the great Clouds of rude Ignorance part before the Sun of Knowledge, the female Sex shall grow in Influence, and Woman take her proper Place as Mistress of the world’s Affairs.
“Therefore I have given my Automaton the Form and Visage of a Woman: not that she pretends to the Understanding of a Woman, but so that she may in a Manner aspire to that Estate; that a Creature which shall be endowed with all bodily Power (for it will certainly come to pass that Automata shall be constructed whose Strength will far exceed that of a Man) shall be governed by a Woman’s Wisdom and Understanding.”
These Sentiments of the eminent Doctor, which are as pleasing as they are novel, have confirmed me in my favorable Opinion of the Man: For he is much like that excellent Sage in the History of Zorira, the Persian Princess; who, when called upon to advise how the Princess might be cheated of her royall Power, and a Man substituted to rule in her Stead, cry’d, “A Man! Nay, but he must be a God who would rule with such Justice, and Wisdom, and Humanity, as our Princess hath exhibited to us all”; whereupon he was forthwith thrown to the Lions; but the cruell and mischievous Caball which sought her Undoing was at last undone, as well you remember, by the fortunate Intervention of a Genie or Spirit. I may tell you, my dearest Sister, that the Discourse of the great Doctor pleased me as no other Man’s has done: always excepting our beloved George, whose Discourse I regard it as my Duty to find pleasing;—what there is of it, I mean to say: For in the Course of the whole Evening I doubt whether he spoke three Words together, and indeed I might almost have thought him Afflicted by some Melancholy, had he not assured me that his Digestion was at Fault.
To-night I have retired once again to this excellent Chamber, whose very Antiquity is its chief Excellence; and I feel that at last I have met with, and conquered in, an Adventure worthy of the great Heroines whose Histories we have both read with so much Pleasure. I shall not fail to write again to-morrow, recording more of what the eminent Doctor tells me, and adding such news of George as may be of interest: Until which Time, I remain, &c.